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Washing chicken

I pat dry chicken before I brown or roast it but I know some people who wash chicken before cooking.
When I ask them why they say it's to get them clean. The chicken is not brined. It's right from the grocery store package. What would be the purpose? Seems to me that one would just have a sink to disinfect.

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  1. Because their mother did it, and her mother did it, and her mother did it.....

    1 Reply
    1. I think that the current thinking is that, as you suspect, washing a chicken just spreads the germs around more without doing much for the chicken.

      1. When I buy whole chickens, they come in those bag things (and I go through LOTS of chickens, feeding 2 80lb dogs!) I drain them into the sink, but never ever wash the chicken. It seems silly unless that tiny bit of viscous pink liquid freaks you out. I watch my dogs chew through raw spines and devour livers. Nothing much from the grocery store grosses me out (except the spines and skin in canned salmon - blech!)

        1 Reply
        1. re: LaureltQ

          thanks, all
          I guess you all agree that washing chicken has no point

        2. The USDA recommends that chicken not be washed. Here is a link to the recommendations for handling chicken:


          Draining the package into the sink should be followed by washing the sink. The recommendation against washing would apply, because the concern is that food served uncooked might be contaminated by falling into the sink and being retrieved.

          2 Replies
            1. re: GH1618

              Thanks for the link GH1618. Washing poultry was recommended back when I learned to cook. I'm glad to know I can stop doing it.

            2. Should we move on to washing mushrooms? :-}

              15 Replies
              1. re: sandylc

                put them loose in fridge til you want to use them...THEN, wash them, not before

                1. re: sylvan

                  Yes. There are still many people out there who believe the myth that mushrooms CANNOT BE WASHED at all.

                  1. re: sandylc

                    I always wash mushrooms and if that changes the texture a bit, so be it. I wash all produce to clean it before I eat it.

                    1. re: monavano

                      I always wash them, as well. It doesn't change anything. Alton Brown even TRIED to mess up mushrooms with washing and even soaking......he failed.

                      I don't know where that myth came from. From mushroom brush manufacturers, no doubt!

                      1. re: sandylc

                        It's amazing how inconsistent network chefs are. Some practically go apoplectic at the thought of washing mushrooms!

                        1. re: monavano

                          Are they supposed to be consistent? I guess I don't find it surprising that different cooks and different people have different opinions.

                          1. re: tommy

                            I think they should be. They're the big leagues.

                          2. re: monavano

                            That's true. Some still believe it, and some poo-poo it. I saw Jacques Pepin make fun of the myth once while he was washing his mushrooms.

                            1. re: monavano

                              You want inconsistent? I recently saw G. Ramsey pour olive oil on to a boiling pot of water he was boiling pasta in!!!! Bloody unbelievable!

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Not supposed to put oil in pasta water because it prevents the sauce from sticking to the pasta.

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    In theory, perhaps. In practical applications, not so much.

                                    1. re: tommy

                                      You probably have a point. It's just what "they" say.

                      2. re: sylvan

                        I never wash mushrooms, unless they're picked in the wild and then it's just with a damp towel. Cultivated 'shrooms are grown in a sterile medium. If anything, I brush them off, but most mushrooms I purchase these days are pretty free of debris.

                        As for chicken, I never wash it, most always brine it and pat dry.

                    2. I always rinse my chicken in super duper cold water in a metal colander. The reason: my parents always did it. I give it a shot of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to remove that "chickeny" flavor and toss it with my finger tips in the colander to remove as much water as possible. BUT... I get my chicken from the Asian supermarket in a plastic bag and sometimes I find feathers on it still.

                      1. I brine just about all chicken...So I suppose it does get a bath.. of sorts...........

                        1. I know washing isn't recommended, but for me it's psychological -- I'm not crazy about the slime in the package and sometimes supermarket chickens can smell a little funky.

                          So as I always brine all my poultry anyway, I prepare the bucket of brine first, slit the poultry bag and carefully slide the chicken directly into the brine. No splashing and it gets a bit of a wash while it brines.

                          After brining is done, I usually let the bird air-dry in the fridge for a day or two. Great crispy skin that way.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: acgold7

                            that's a nice system, acgold7
                            I usually marinate/marinade them in teryaki sauce, which I've always been happy with
                            but am wondering should I try brining.
                            what is a gentle brine solution for two bone-in breasts?

                            1. re: sylvan

                              I use about half a cup of light brown sugar and half a cup of kosher salt per litre (or gallon, I guess if you insist ;) of water.. I think that's pretty standard, but then you can toss in other flavours depending on your mood and what's available. Herbs like thyme or rosemary or tarragon, bay leaves, juniper berries, peppercorns, sliced onions or smashed garlic cloves..

                              1. re: megjp

                                A liter and a gallon are very different. Maybe you meant quart?

                                For an overnight gentle brine, I use only 1/2 cup of Kosher Salt (not table salt) per gallon. But for a quick brine you can use 1/2 cup table salt per 2 quarts or liters.

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  Which Kosher salt do you use? Mortons or Diamond?

                            2. re: acgold7

                              I'm always afraid to let raw chicken air dry in the fridge, doesn't it contaminate other items in the fridge?

                              1. re: M_and_H

                                I hope not. I do it all the time. I just make sure nothing is close to it

                                1. re: M_and_H

                                  Not as long as things aren't touching it! An empty crisper drawer is a good option.

                                  1. re: LaureltQ

                                    you can also do the alton brown method and keep cooked foods/things consumed raw above it. i've never had any problems air drying poultry on the lower shelf.

                                    my mom and aunt won't eat chicken unless we wash it.. i only do it when i'm near them.

                                  2. re: M_and_H

                                    Nope. And it does wonders for the skin.

                                    1. re: M_and_H

                                      No, why would it? It's not like it's spraying germs everywhere. As long as you keep it on a tray and also on the bottom shelf, it's pretty much physically impossible.

                                      I also perch my whole birds on vertical roasters while drying, whether or not I'm planning on cooking them that way, so all liquid drains off and there are no undried spots.

                                      1. re: acgold7

                                        Oh, the vertical roaster is a smart idea. I put the bird on a rack set over a large plate and turn every once in awhile, patting dry as I go.

                                  3. Because I like to spend some time with my chicken, ok?

                                    1. I always wash my chicken; I don't know where the bird has been at the store. It could have been sitting on something not so clean or dropped & just stuck in a package. Also, bagged chicken parts like leg quarters or cut up whole chickens some time have pieces of bone & gristle in the bag/package as well as the bloody liquid. Why would I want to just pour all of that in my roaster? Besides, its no more laborous to disinfect a sink as it is to wash it out which is something that should be done anyway.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                        You are getting to the substance of the issue here. The point of guidelines advising against washing chicken is to minimize risk of contamination. If you are aware of the importance of avoiding cross-contamination, and take the necessary precautions, there is no harm done by washing your chicken.

                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          so, the FDA would rather you get contamination from unwashed food? Again, are we certain where the food has been prior to bringing it home? Sure, it was in a store, but with raw meat, I'm not going to assume anything unless I handle it in a manner I deem necessary for it to be considered consummable. It's common sense

                                          1. re: Cherylptw

                                            The guidelines are from the USDA/FSIS, not the FDA (see link posted above). I am sure that their guidelines for handling chicken are aimed at maximum safety. Washing a chicken does not remove the potentially harmful bacteria. Only proper cooking can do that. When washing a raw chicken, if you choose to do that, it is important to avoid cross-contamination.

                                            1. re: Cherylptw

                                              Washing it isn't likely going to get any of these contaminants off of the chicken. Cooking it, however, will. The FDA is keenly aware of this, I suspect.

                                              Washing it gets chicken juice in places that you don't want it. That is what the FDA doesn't want to happen.

                                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                                How are you washing it? Unless you're soaking it in bleach for days, it is unlikely that you are removing/killing anything harmful.

                                          2. I had a friend who would rinse her chicken with hydrogen peroxide. Something about the foaming action made her think that it was getting rid of germs.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: monavano

                                              And it was getting rid of surface germs.

                                            2. I always wash chicken. It gives me a chance to pull out little bits of leftover feathers bits, wash the slime from being in the bag, a chance to check the cavity and pull off excess fat deposits.

                                              I personally think the salmonella link to chicken it way over blown where people are paranoid. I'd be more worried about ground beef than whole chickens. However, I do use good practices where I prep all foods I plan to serve raw before I handling raw meat.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                You know, you have triggered my realization that it really doesn't matter if you want to wash your chicken or if you don't care to. What really matters is that everyone has an understanding of good practices in food prep, with an understanding of cross-contamination possibilities and prevention strategies.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  I agree. It comes down to personal preference. For me, the bag juices on chicken is unappetizing while for others the concern of additional cross-contamination is their deal breaker.

                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                    Good luck in getting people to understand the issues before forming strong opinions, unfortunately.

                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                      Which is the reason why the government recommendations are always written with a safety buffer built in. For example, holding poultry at 140 degrees for 3 minutes kills stuff and hitting 160 kills it also; the gov tells everyone 165 just to be extra sure.

                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                        Indeed. Things of this nature are written for non-thinkers, which is the majority of the country.

                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                          Also for thinkers who sometimes take shortcuts or simply make a mistake.

                                                2. One reason I wash chicken under running water is to remove bits of kidney or liver or whatever it is that are sometimes on the inside. I HATE that giblety taste that seems to permeate the meat and gravy.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                    Same here... there always seems to be some little bits of liver stuck in the cavity. I also hate "bag gunk"

                                                  2. Here's a link to a recent article about a CDC report on salmonella infections:


                                                    1. Take a tour of a commercial poultry processing plant. Don't bother because they won't allow you in the door. You won't ever need to worry about washing your chicken again because you'll never buy another bird unless it from a small family farm that does it's own butchering of it's 'free range' birds.